Friday, September 04, 2009

What all youth baseball coaches should know

Today's assignment. Read this.

It's the American Sports Medicine Institute's new "position statement" on youth baseball pitchers and injury prevention.

In July, ASMI's top researcher, Glenn Fleisig, shared findings from a study of youth pitchers for an article I wrote for the New York Times.

The study looked at 29 youth pitchers from ages 9 to 14. All were given instructions to throw their curves — fastballs and changeups, too — as if they were in a real game. The results were surprising, even to the researchers. Curves were less stressful than fastballs and nothing linked curves to elbow injuries. The real culprit for these injuries - along with inadequate conditioning and pitching mechanics, according to ASMI - seemed to be overuse, kids throwing too many pitches and playing baseball too many months of the year.

Fleisig got clobbered for the study's observations about curveballs. One ESPN talking head, after a discourse on how he blew up his elbow throwing curves in high school, called Fleisig a "quack." Other reaction was nearly as over-the-top.

These revised guidelines, which Dr. Fleisig tells me were prompted by the "buzz" over the Times story, do not retreat from Fleisig's earlier comment about curves. "Throwing curveballs has been suggested as a risk factor, but the existing research does not support this," the report states.

The ASMI statement does flesh out important dos and don'ts for keeping kid pitchers safe. Note that USA Baseball's recommended pitch limits are more restrictive than Little League Baseball's. That's a subject for another day.

No comments: